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Astra Space To Launch Military Test Payload In First Commercial Mission

Astra Space (ASTR) could launch its first commercial mission as early as Friday, under a demonstration contract with the U.S. Space Force. ASTR stock rose.




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The rocket will carry a test payload for the Space Force, as part of a contract with the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit. A second launch is scheduled for later this year.

The launch window at Astra’s Kodiak, Alaska, site is open from 4 p.m. ET Aug. 27 through Sept. 11.

The upcoming orbital demonstration launch will allow Astra to verify upgrades to its launch system.

Two prior test launches fell short of reaching all their goals. Last September, an Astra rocket lifted off, but a problem with its guidance system prevented it from reaching space. In December, another rocket reached space but ran out of fuel just before hitting orbital velocity.

Astra can launch satellites weighing 100 pounds but plans to increase that load number. The company planned to start commercial launch service for customers this summer and then move to daily launches by 2025.

Even though it hasn’t started commercial launch services yet, Astra still had a big summer. The company went public on July 1 via special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Holicity, becoming the first publicly traded space company on the Nasdaq.

ASTR Stock

Shares rose 0.7% to 11.13 on the stock market today. ASTR stock has recently found support at the 50-day line but remains below the 200-day line.

Among other top space stocks, Virgin Galactic (SPCE) was off 2.1%, Spire Global (SPIR), a small satellite provider, rose 1%. Rocket Lab (RKLB) shares tumbled 4% on its second day of trading.

Following its successful crewed launch with founder Jeff Bezos last month, Blue Origin launched 18 commercial payloads, including a test of lunar lander sensors for NASA, aboard its New Shepard spacecraft just after 10:30 a.m. ET Thursday morning.

The rocket successfully landed back at Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site at 10:39 a.m. ET, successfully completing its eighth mission. The capsule touched down a couple of minutes later.

But tensions remain between Blue Origin and NASA. The company filed a lawsuit earlier this month over NASA’s decision to award Elon Musk’s SpaceX the sole Human Landing System contract for the Artemis mission to put the first woman on the moon.

Follow Gillian Rich on Twitter for space news and more.

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